Post polio syndrome

Post Polio Syndrome (also known as the Late Effects of Polio) is a condition affecting polio survivors many years after recovery from an initial acute attack of polio. Symptoms are not caused by re-infection from the polio virus or related to age, and not all people who've had polio will experience them.

Many scientists believe post polio syndrome develops in the following way:

  • nerve cells controlling muscle movements are damaged by the initial polio infection
  • some of the nerve cells are recovered while others are 'sprouted' and take over the work of cells that have died
  • 'sprouted' nerve cells have to work a lot harder than a 'normal' nerve cell
  • after many years of increased workload, 'sprouts' start to break down
  • as a result new muscle weakness is experienced

There is currently no test available to confirm whether you have the late effects of polio. A diagnosis will be based on a person's medical history.

A person with late effects will have:

  • had polio in the past, with or without paralysis
  • new symptoms of pain and weakness
  • no other clinical explanations for your symptoms